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The Mental Health Officer Service

Orkney Islands Council has appointed a small team of Mental Health Officers (MHOs) offering a specialist service to people experiencing mental health issues and to other professionals involved in their care. MHOs are social workers who have undertaken additional specialist training in mental health and legislation in Scotland. MHOs in Orkney undertake this role alongside their main work for Orkney Health and Care.

Mental Health (Care and Treatment) Scotland Act 2003

MHOs participate in the Mental Health Officer On Call System. This is a round the clock service where the MHO on duty can be contacted via the Community Mental Health Team during office hours and the Balfour Hospital switchboard outside of office hours.

The Duty MHO carries out an assessment, usually at the request of a doctor, regarding the need for compulsory detention in hospital. The MHO considers alternatives to detention and where necessary consents to statutory detention.

Adults with Incapacity (Scotland) Act 2000

MHOs are involved in actions to safeguard the welfare, finances and property of those who lack capacity as a result of a mental disorder.

A mental disorder can be mental illness, learning disability or brain impairment as a result of injury or dementia. People over 16 who cannot make their own decisions because of the above are deemed to have incapacity under the Act.

Orkney Islands Council MHO’s may:

  • Carry out assessments with other professionals to determine whether an Emergency Detention Certificate (S36 of the Act) or a Short Term Detention Certificate (S44 of the Act) is required to have a person affected by mental illness moved to a psychiatric hospital for specialist assessment and treatment.
  • MHOs have a duty to apply to a Mental Health Tribunal where a multi-disciplinary team agrees that a Compulsory Treatment Order(S 64) is required to assist with the care of a person needing treatment under the Act.
  • Provide information and advice to service users subject to detention about their rights including how to choose a Named Person, make an Advance Statement and access Independent Advocacy Services.
  • Undertake ongoing liaison with psychiatrists, MHOs and Ward staff at Royal Cornhill Hospital, or elsewhere, where detained patients are admitted, in the planning and provision of future care for patients subject to detention and compulsory treatment orders.
  • Supervise and review cases subject to compulsory measures.
  • Carry out assessments to determine whether action is needed in relation to welfare and/or financial matters under the Adults with Incapacity Act.
  • Make applications for Welfare Guardianship or Intervention Orders where needed and not being done by someone else.
  • Write statutory reports to support private applications for Guardianship and Intervention Orders.
  • Supervise and review all cases including private Welfare Guardians.

We Also

  • Offer advice, assistance, support and training to all professionals involved in mental disorder.
  • Provide advice, guidance and assistance to Welfare Powers of Attorney and to members of the public.
  • Carry out investigations under Adults With Incapacity and Mental Health Care and Treatment Acts.
  • Participate in the Protection of Adults at risk from harm and as appropriate undertake other duties as defined within the Adult Support and Protection (Scotland) Act 2007.
  • Prepare reports and act as designated MHO’s for mentally disordered offenders.
  • Carry out assessments and arrange services to meet needs.
  • Provide specialist advice and support to staff in relation to application of legislation relevant to mental health and capacity across all services.


  • The Adults with Incapacity (Scotland) Act 2000.
  • The Mental Health (Care and Treatment) (Scotland) Act 2003.
  • The Adult Support and Protection (Scotland) Act 2007.
  • The Social Work (Scotland) Act 1968 and subsequent amendments.

Contact Information

MHOs are not available for contact directly by members of the public. MHOs will be contacted by a GP, hospital doctor or police surgeon when they are required to contribute to an assessment.

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